Room-temperature superconductor?

How should we think about weird things?
mrflora
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Jul 24, 2005 8:16 pm
Location: Planet Earth

Room-temperature superconductor?

Postby mrflora » Sun Jul 24, 2005 8:25 pm

This company claims to have a room-temperature superconducting material, and is in the process of commercializing it:

http://ultraconductors.com

The documents posted on the website appear plausible. Has anybody heard of this company or its CEO, Mark Goldes, or CTO Kevin Shambrook before?

Regards,
Michael Flora

User avatar
GrnMtSkeptic
Poster
Posts: 70
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2005 12:25 am
Location: Amid a cesspool of new age flapdoodle

Postby GrnMtSkeptic » Sun Jul 24, 2005 9:38 pm

Don't know much about Shambrook except that apparently he is an electrical engineer with prior experience in multichip module wiring (K. P. Shambrook and P. A. Trask, “High-Density Multichip Interconnect (HDMI),” Proc. 39th Electron. Components, Conf., pp. 656–662, 1989.).

Apparently started Room Temperature Superconductors Inc. several years ago to develop "Ultraconductors." (See http://superconductors.org/ultra.htm). Claims to have published in Journal of Superconductivity on ultraconductors. I have not researched that work or whether there has been independent verification of his work.

Wired On Line published an article on him in 1998:

http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,13894,00.html

and the response from Mark Goldes:

http://www.anotherviewpoint.net/Wiredarticleupload.doc

Apparently, they have claimed to have had a room-temperature superconducting material and to have been in the process of commercializing it since at least 1998.
"Can it be that so many men, of various times and nations, outstanding minds among them, have devoted so much effort, and indeed fervor, to metaphysics, when this consists of nothing more than words strung together without sense?" -Rudolph Carnap

Guy Noir
Poster
Posts: 477
Joined: Sun Mar 13, 2005 2:44 am
Location: outer suburbia

Postby Guy Noir » Sun Jul 24, 2005 9:46 pm

I don’t know very little about superconductors.

A quick google search for polymer superconductor produces a good number of articles stating that the basic concept is valid. Last I knew, all existing superconductors were ceramic.

One thing I would worry about with a polymer superconductor is how it responds to external heat. Polymers tend to be flammable. I would hate to see what might happen if one of these things, (if they exist), were to catch fire while conducting current. Could make for a very nasty short circuit.

I also googled Mark Goldes. The results look cranky. Very first item:

http://www.pureenergysystems.com/news/2 ... eticPower/

Envision a power grid that resembles the infrastructure of the Internet, with many nodes of power generation connected by a network of room temperature superconductor cables. The power-net would combine the general reliability of the grid with the back-up independence of on-site generation.

Such is the vision of Mark Goldes, Chairman and CEO of Magnetic Power Inc. and its synergistic subsidiary company, Room Temperature Superconductors Inc.

After two decades of evaluating various systems, and three years of developing their own prototypes, Magnetic Power Inc. claims to be on the verge of developing technologies that tap into the theoretical Zero Point Energy (ZPE) field that surrounds us, in what is thought to be inexhaustible abundance.


Zero point energy is a hallmark of scam artists who like to ignore thermodynamics. It would appear that Mr. Goldes is attempting to sell us a “free lunch”.

Time will tell if this is real. I would not bet the farm on it.

User avatar
GrnMtSkeptic
Poster
Posts: 70
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2005 12:25 am
Location: Amid a cesspool of new age flapdoodle

Postby GrnMtSkeptic » Sun Jul 24, 2005 9:51 pm

My guess would be that the government money dried up...
"Can it be that so many men, of various times and nations, outstanding minds among them, have devoted so much effort, and indeed fervor, to metaphysics, when this consists of nothing more than words strung together without sense?" -Rudolph Carnap

User avatar
Don_Fernandez
Poster
Posts: 317
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2005 5:37 pm
Location: Under the Milky Way

Postby Don_Fernandez » Sat Aug 06, 2005 1:09 am

First thing to note, they are careful in not actually claiming that their "ultraconductor" is a superconductor.
But also note that they do nothing to prevent people from thinking that's the case. That is quite misleading.

Another important note: a patent is not a guarantee of scientific validity, only means that something is new and non-obvious and thus deserves intellectual property protection (check USPTO.gov for a better definition of why and how a patent is granted). In fact there were many patents for perpetual motion machines before the USPTO decided to reject any new ones and stop wasting time on them. I've also seen a patent for a faster than light device.

Their technical papers list includes papers in reputable journals, yes, but notice that they are for theoretical journals for the most part, and most are very old articles.

I know from experience (reading during my graduate studies and afterwards) that in theoretical articles people can get away with publishing things that are not consistent with experiments. At the early stages of some discoveries there might be a flurry of theoretical papers that will be invalidated within a few months by the publication of one single experimental paper.

I am skeptical of just how good this novel conductor might be. I would have to have access to more technical literature (and time to review it, which currently I don't have) to give specific criticisms of their claims.
From a quick reading I would say that their "scientific overview" PDF reads as borderline pseudoscientific. It just bands together way too many scientific terms that usually don't go together, it throws in many technical terms without bothering to define them, it overuses the terms "anomalous" and "novel quantum behavior" (notice that claiming quantum effects to be involved is a favorite technique of many pseudoscientific claims), it also misuses some terms (one usually speaks of a lattice in ordered materials, such as crystals, you don't define a lattice for amorphous materials such as polymers). Also, I failed to read a good explanation of how you can have an "electron string" without running into problems with repulsion of like charges (oh, wait, it may be one of those "novel quantum behaviors" they don't explain!!)
I will call this sloppy science at the very least. I am very doubtful of what they claim.

User avatar
GrnMtSkeptic
Poster
Posts: 70
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2005 12:25 am
Location: Amid a cesspool of new age flapdoodle

Postby GrnMtSkeptic » Sat Aug 06, 2005 1:43 am

Don_Fernandez wrote:First thing to note, they are careful in not actually claiming that their "ultraconductor" is a superconductor.
But also note that they do nothing to prevent people from thinking that's the case. That is quite misleading.


I don't know. One of the first things you see on their web site is:

Room Temperature Superconductors, Inc.

Has developed what are believed to be the world’s first, commercial, ambient-temperature superconducting polymer materials, trademarked
Ultraconductors


I'd say that comes pretty close to claiming it is a superconductor.

Also, from the Wired Online article:

In superconductivity circles, the history of Magnetic Power and its Ultraconductors is alternately described by critics as "funny" and "appalling."


Which Goldes did not dispute in his response.
"Can it be that so many men, of various times and nations, outstanding minds among them, have devoted so much effort, and indeed fervor, to metaphysics, when this consists of nothing more than words strung together without sense?" -Rudolph Carnap

User avatar
Don_Fernandez
Poster
Posts: 317
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2005 5:37 pm
Location: Under the Milky Way

Postby Don_Fernandez » Mon Aug 08, 2005 5:53 pm

GrnMtSkeptic wrote:
Don_Fernandez wrote:First thing to note, they are careful in not actually claiming that their "ultraconductor" is a superconductor.
But also note that they do nothing to prevent people from thinking that's the case. That is quite misleading.


I don't know. One of the first things you see on their web site is:

Room Temperature Superconductors, Inc.

Has developed what are believed to be the world’s first, commercial, ambient-temperature superconducting polymer materials, trademarked
Ultraconductors


I'd say that comes pretty close to claiming it is a superconductor.


You're right... I missed that because I just skimmed the front-page went directly for the more in-depth documentation. Their "primer" section has the following definition
ULTRACONDUCTORtm n. "Electrical conductors, which have certain properties similar to present-day superconductors. They are best considered as a novel state of matter."
Other documents also emphasize their trademarked name and do say that some of the alleged properties of their materials are unlike those of what is usually known as superconductors. As I said, they are misleading in their use of terminology.

In any event, given the polymer matrices they say they're using I am also doubtful of just how they measured resistance/conductivity at temperatures up to 400 °C (700 K they say) and managed to keep the structure of their alleged polarons given that polymers are already melted at those temperatures, and for some polymers you also have thermal decomposition (even in the absence of oxygen) at those temperatures. There may also be phase changes occurring when you cool down polymers (and they claim measurements down to 1.8 K), including crystalization, a potential contradiction with their claim that crystaline polymers are not useful.
I sincerely doubt that the "channel" structures they claim to be responsible for the (alleged) properties of their materials can survive so many phase changes.

User avatar
graves
New Member
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 12:49 pm
Location: On an island in the Pacific ....

Postby graves » Wed Oct 05, 2005 3:09 pm

I'm happy to wait.

If they do indeed have what they claim, the principals will be tremendously wealthy, and will change the world overnight. The device doesn't have to be more than 60 or 70 percent efficient to end world dependence on oil. It would singlehandedly end tensions in the middle east, save the Arctic, take pressure off the boreal forests, and turn around global warming. It will be in the next car I buy instead of a fuel cell.

I doubt this will happen.

I spent a lot of years in and around the venture capital industry. We developed our own baloney detection kits, tuned to use business plans and web sites to protect us from garbage businesses.

Here are some questions, cribbed from that kit:
    1) Give me an authentic provenance to the idea. Show me the small steps others have made leading up to it.
    2) Does it already have legitimate VC funding? (Military money is notoriously dumb, so it doesn't count.)
    3) To whom does the principal give his or her time? (I would be much happier to see the AAAS than the American Antigravity folks: see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/americana ... message/64.)
    4) Show me a credible reference client with a real application.
    5) If you can't show me a reference client, show me a working prototype. If it's on the verge of being commercialized, it must be working somewhere ... in a house, in a car, in a flashlight, in an iPod. Show me! You have to know I will bring a plague of experts to bear on this prototype, so it had better be GOOD.
    6) What is the history of ideas of the principals? What else are they involved in? (Zero Point Energy and energy from magnets are very, very bad signs. http://www.zpenergy.com/modules.php?nam ... e&sid=1357)
    7) Look at the language. Is the development always "on the verge" of being ready? Is the "establishment" always "wrong", and the principal always right? Do they make the "Chinese market" logical fallacy? (Read "Art of the Start" ... not enough space here.) Watch out for firms that miss "whopper deadlines" (http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/000045.html) by a mile.
    8) Show me peer-reviewed papers and presentations at mainstream scientific conferences by the principals. Better yet, show me serious scientists who respond to these papers. Papers by other people on collateral topics don't count. A paper on ZPE is not the same as a paper outlining an industrial process to capture it.
    9) Give me reproducibility. I won't look at a company with "secret processes"; if you can't show me how someone else can do it, I won't even get up from my desk.
    10) Give me competitors. If one person can do it, so can someone else. If one person is working on it now, you can bet two or three others are, too. You are defined by the quality of your cometitors, so the competitors had better look good to the baloney kit. If you compete with Boeing (even in a minor way), I am impressed. If you compete with Johann Bessler, I am much less impressed.

I know a fellow who is working on a refinement of the Dean drive (Google it). I've offered him a thousand dollars if he can meet ONLY point number five in my investor's baloney-detection kit. I still have my money, even though he has managed to attract quite a bit of cash from other people ... even though my money is free (I don't want shares, but I am the only one who wants proof). He, too, has found physicists and scientific papers that seem to support what he's doing. He, too, is on the verge of commercialization. He, too, is worried about a conspiracy to keep him quiet. He, too, is writing a patent application. He, too, misses every major deadline for proof.

Right now, room-temperature superconductors look like a pretty poor bet.

So, as I said, I'll wait.

The world will be a better place if I am wrong.

User avatar
Pedantica
Regular Poster
Posts: 729
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2005 4:35 pm
Location: Precinct Fabulous

Postby Pedantica » Thu Oct 27, 2005 9:10 am

Read the small print on the website:

"This information includes forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. The development and potential success, as well as the outcome of the Company's product development plans could differ materially from that presented here, depending on factors both within and outside the control of the Company."

Overtone
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 11:59 pm
Location: Sebastopol, CA
Contact:

Comments by the CEO of Room Temperature Superconductors Inc.

Postby Overtone » Sat Oct 29, 2005 12:35 am

I was pleased to find this website and found the comments of interest.

Skepticism is welcome with regard to both our Ultraconductors and the energy conversion work of the parent firm, Magnetic Power Inc.

Our polymer Ultraconductors(tm) were discovered in the former Soviet Union in 1981. Dr. Leonid Grigorov was handed a piece of polypropylene with the comment: " Something is wrong with this insulator, it is conducting electricity, fix it." A polymer physicist, he had never before seen such strange conductivity and as a result of his analysis a team of Ph.D. basic research scientists at the Institute of Polymer Materials of what is now the Russian Academy of Science in Moscow, had three floors of laboratories dedicated to exploration of this material. Just after the Cold War ended they published a paper in Russian entitled: On Genuine Room Temperature Superconductivity in Oxidized Polypropylene. The title appeared in HiTC Update, published in the U.S. We had the paper privately translated six months prior to the translation published by the American Institute of Physics. Room temperature superconductivity was predicted in narrow filaments by the late Dr. Robert Carroll during the 1960's. That it would appear in a polymer was predicted in a paper in Physicial Review by William A. Little, now an Emeritus Professor of Physics at Stanford, who is a member of our Scientific Advisory Council. The work was independently reproduced at the Ioffe Institute in St. Petersburg in 1989, where they concluded a paper describing a difficult experiment as indicating the filaments had zero resistance. We visited the team in Moscow in 1992 and concluded the work was excellent and the achievment genuine. In 1993, the firm was formed as a subsidiary of Magnetic Power Inc., which had been examining claims of room temperature superconductivity since 1985. More information regarding these polymer materials can be found on the website: http://www.ultraconductors.com

The parent firm, Magnetic Power Inc., began when the late physicist Robert Forward, then at Hughes Aircraft, published a paper in Physical Review during 1984, suggesting electricity could be produced by conversion of Zero Point Energy. We do not expect anyone with scientific or engineering background to accept this as possible without examining a Demonstration Device. We hope to have such devices, both solid-state and rotary, available for purchase, at reasonable prices, during the last half of 2006. We are also planning to license the manufacture of 1 kW fuel-free generators, based on the same laboratory investigations that led us toward Demonstration Devices and toys, by the end of next year.

User avatar
Pedantica
Regular Poster
Posts: 729
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2005 4:35 pm
Location: Precinct Fabulous

Re: Comments by the CEO of Room Temperature Superconductors

Postby Pedantica » Sat Oct 29, 2005 9:58 am

Overtone wrote:I was pleased to find this website and found the comments of interest.

Skepticism is welcome with regard to both our Ultraconductors and the energy conversion work of the parent firm, Magnetic Power Inc... (snipped)


Thanks for your comments. I note that on another website you wrote:

"Prototype Zero Point Energy extraction devices have been constructed in numerous laboratories, throughout the world, during the past two decades."

Source:
http://earthmeanders.blogspot.com/2005/ ... -root.html

During the past 20 years that these devices have been available have any of them been tested with positive results published in any peer-reviewed science journals?

Overtone
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 11:59 pm
Location: Sebastopol, CA
Contact:

Not to my knowledge

Postby Overtone » Sat Oct 29, 2005 9:53 pm

I do not know of any such paper. However, in the case of commercial firms, publishing scientific papers is not often a primary objective. This is especially the case when the work does not fit conventional theory.

The patent literature is more revealing, but as has been mentioned, the issuance of a patent does not insure validity, but only novelty.

An example of some of the best work can be seen in the patents issued and pending to Dr. Fabrizio Pinto. A physicist, he published in Physical Review, and then left the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to found Interstellar Technologies. Their website includes some of his theoretical work in both mathematical and non-mathematical form.

Following the widespread availability of mass produced Demonstration Devices and toys, I expect papers will begin to appear. Once the conversion of energy of this nature becomes commonplace academics are likely to pursue the subject. Prior to that it might too easily interfere with climbing a career ladder. As the Japanese saying goes: The nail that protrudes gets hit with the hammer.

User avatar
didaktik
Regular Poster
Posts: 643
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 5:50 pm
Location: Nuevo Mexico, Estados Unidos
Contact:

Postby didaktik » Fri Nov 04, 2005 4:13 am

Well, the Yankee version of that saying goes, "The proud nail gets hammered". While this is true, more often than not, it's more a case of "the seemingly preposterous gets ridiculed". Talk is increasingly cheap in this technologically enhanced mass produced world we live in, and seeing is still believing for your "average Joe" who would rather be entertained than challenged. When that entertainment is not forthcoming, the banter sets in, and woe to the hapless "egghead" who seeks the low road to fame and fortune. Moral of the story, a swine is liable to assume that any "pearls" that are being cast before it are fair game in the great "smorgasborg" of life. Be prepared to be eaten alive... ;^]
"Life is a joke, but you gotta be there to get it!"

Kristofer Dale,
ragged individualist,
statistic at large...

pencil24
New Member
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2005 10:15 am
Contact:

Latest version

Postby pencil24 » Wed Nov 23, 2005 10:20 am

Guy Noir wrote:I don’t know very little about superconductors.


I think that installing the latest version might help and do not forget to do its updates.

User avatar
didaktik
Regular Poster
Posts: 643
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 5:50 pm
Location: Nuevo Mexico, Estados Unidos
Contact:

Re: Latest version

Postby didaktik » Mon Dec 05, 2005 11:39 am

pencil24 wrote:
Guy Noir wrote:I don’t know very little about superconductors.


I think that installing the latest version might help and do not forget to do its updates.


Speaking as one who DOES know very little, I can attest to the confusion one can cause by misconstruing such terms as, for example, superconductors and semiconductors. Toscanini vs. Fiedler readily comes to mind...

;^]
"Life is a joke, but you gotta be there to get it!"



Kristofer Dale,

ragged individualist,

statistic at large...

User avatar
PixyMisa
Tech Support Monkey
Tech Support Monkey
Posts: 230
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 9:42 pm

Postby PixyMisa » Mon Dec 05, 2005 1:32 pm

didaktik wrote:Well, the Yankee version of that saying goes, "The proud nail gets hammered".


I just wanted to point out that it's bloody hard to hammer a countersunk nail.

User avatar
PixyMisa
Tech Support Monkey
Tech Support Monkey
Posts: 230
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 9:42 pm

Re: Comments by the CEO of Room Temperature Superconductors

Postby PixyMisa » Mon Dec 05, 2005 1:37 pm

Pedantica wrote:During the past 20 years that these devices have been available have any of them been tested with positive results published in any peer-reviewed science journals?


Sure.

But they only work once. Then you have to, um, recharge them. (Casimir effect.)

They extract energy from ZPE the same way we extract energy in hydroelectric dams. Without some other energy source pushing the water back up the hill, it's not terribly useful.

Guy Noir
Poster
Posts: 477
Joined: Sun Mar 13, 2005 2:44 am
Location: outer suburbia

Re: Latest version

Postby Guy Noir » Mon Dec 05, 2005 2:19 pm

didaktik wrote:
pencil24 wrote:
Guy Noir wrote:I don’t know very little about superconductors.


I think that installing the latest version might help and do not forget to do its updates.


Speaking as one who DOES know very little, I can attest to the confusion one can cause by misconstruing such terms as, for example, superconductors and semiconductors. Toscanini vs. Fiedler readily comes to mind...

;^]


I was impressed by the bots ability to pick such a badly worded sentace to quote. Kind of exposed the nature of the thing as something other than an attempt at discussion.

User avatar
bigtim
Perpetual Poster
Posts: 4076
Joined: Thu Feb 16, 2006 7:04 pm
Custom Title: Skeptical Berserker
Location: Miðgarðr

Postby bigtim » Fri Feb 24, 2006 10:40 pm

I'm curious. If this has been on the verge of being developed as a commerical product since 1998.... why isn't it all over the place? That's 8 years.

During a development cycle the "just before commericalization" step is near the last step. All your testing and evaluations have already been done. Your documentation already exists. Why isn't there any of that with this?

I also think it's interesting that the interested party came to post on a skeptic's forum....
~
BigTim
"I'm not entirely convinced that ValHalla isn't real."

Overtone
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 11:59 pm
Location: Sebastopol, CA
Contact:

Ultraconductors - Why they are not yet in products...and oug

Postby Overtone » Wed Apr 12, 2006 10:16 pm

Prior to the dot.com crash, the work was supported financially by more than $1 million a year from Angel investors.

Following that event, companies without revenue found it all but impossible to raise substnatial capital.

Fortunately, concern about energy supply is resulting in a few financially capable parties paying attention.

The breakthrough energy work of the parent firm, Magnetic Power Inc., is close to independent laboratory validation. That will be followed by the development of Demonstration Devices. These will give skeptics an opportunity to see for themselves that this is new science.

Our Ultraconductor program needs $18 million and three years to get to wire. Simpler products may be developed with less money in less time.

With copper at an all time high, polymer wire that conducts at least 100,000 times better than gold, silver, or copper, will find a ready market.

It is obvious that the two technologies are synergistic.

Several parties interested in funding Magnetic Power Modules(tm), can see the advantages of using Ultraconductors in place of copper wire.

The website: magneticpowerinc.com begins with a chronology containing links to an article about an 1874 magnetic engine, invented by Wesley Gary, as well as to the British Intelligence Report describing the work of Hans Coler, who first demonstrated a solid-state magnetic generator in 1924. Werner Heisenberg stated magnetism could become a source of energy in 1928. In 1937, Coler demonstrated a 6 kW solid-state magnetic generator which resulted in support by Hitler's Navy. His lab as destroyed by an Allied bomb late in WWII, but he survived, and cooperated with the British team after the War ended.

See the December, 2004, article Ticking Time Bomb, by John Atcheson, a DOE geologist, for an excellent reason why revolutionary new sources of energy are urgently needed. The recent report from the Oxford University global climate study suggests the 6 degrees C temperature rise that Atcheson states could end human life on earth, is likely to be attained by 2050.


Return to “Skepticism and Critical Thinking”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Majestic-12 [Bot] and 0 guests